FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – 57-year-old Rhonda Murphy is considered by many to be the picture of health. She’s owned her own gym in north Fresno since 1996. She exercises and eats healthy, but in January of this year, after a routine mammogram, she got the shock of her life.
According to Rhonda, “They called me back immediately and said we found something, and I said I was clear last year, and they said you need to get here immediately.”
A biopsy confirmed aggressive cancer deep in her right breast. So deep, it was not palpable. She’s thankful she didn’t skip her mammogram that day. “The radiologist called me and said you have no clue how you just saved yourself,” says Rhonda.
She saved herself from a fate that claims the lives of so many women. Rhonda underwent surgery, endured chemotherapy, radiation, and will have immunotherapy. Support from friends has helped. “I have such a wide group of friends and all of them took care of me. My friends say most say it takes a village; your’s is more like a small metropolitan area,” she says.
There was also support from total strangers, a sisterhood of breast cancer survivors– a group called S-O-S. Donna Gavella is with S-O-S. She says the organization was formed to offer support specifically for breast cancer patients. “We’re here for all of those newly diagnosed patients as well as the long-time survivors,” says Gavello.
The SOS non-profit was established in 2010 to deliver free gift bags to breast cancer patients like Rhonda, filled with essentials: a sleep cap to warm your head after hair loss, a hand-made pillow, a book loaded with information, a pillbox, lotions, even ginger lozenges. “A lot of these items you see in front of me probably are not recommended by a medical person, but they’re recommended by a friend whose been there done that, and survived it,” Gavello says.
Rhonda Murphy, fitness expert, and soon-to-be Breast Cancer Survivor: a label she is proud to add to her resume. With a little help from friends. According to Rhonda, “I call them my fitness angles or my earth angels because from all over, they literally did.”
For more information about Sisterhood of Survivors, or S-O-S, you can call them at (559) 439-2183, or go to their Facebook page: “SISTERHOOD-OF- SURVIVORS- FRESNO“.
They have a monthly luncheon for breast cancer patients and survivors and are always looking for volunteers to help with their gift bag distribution.